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Guide to Handling Kotlin NetworkOnMainThreadException: Solving the Main Thread Networking Issue

Bhargava MNN
~ 4 min read | Published on Feb 28, 2024





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Introduction

In the evolving landscape of mobile application development, encountering runtime errors is a rite of passage for developers. Among these, the Kotlin NetworkOnMainThreadException is a common stumbling block that can frustrate even the most seasoned developers. This article demystifies this error, guiding you through understanding, identifying, and resolving it with practical solutions and code examples.

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Understanding NetworkOnMainThreadException in Kotlin

At its core, the NetworkOnMainThreadException in Kotlin signals an attempt to perform a network operation on the main thread of an application. Android's design prohibits network calls on the main thread to prevent UI blocking and ensure a smooth user experience. Let's delve into scenarios that typically trigger this error and explore corrective measures.

Scenario 1

Error code

fun fetchUserData() {
    val url = URL("<https://api.example.com/userdata>")
    val connection = url.openConnection()
    val data = connection.getInputStream() // Throws NetworkOnMainThreadException
}

Corrected code

fun fetchUserData() {
    Thread {
        val url = URL("<https://api.example.com/userdata>")
        val connection = url.openConnection()
        val data = connection.getInputStream() // Moved to background thread
    }.start()
}

Solution Summary

The issue was resolved by moving the network call to a background thread, ensuring the main UI thread remains unblocked and responsive.

Scenario 2

Error code

override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
    super.onCreate(savedInstanceState)
    val data = URL("<https://api.example.com/data>").readText() // NetworkOnMainThreadException
}

Corrected code

override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {
    super.onCreate(savedInstanceState)
    CoroutineScope(Dispatchers.IO).launch {
        val data = URL("<https://api.example.com/data>").readText() // Executed in IO dispatcher
    }
}

Solution Summary

Utilizing Kotlin Coroutines and the IO dispatcher, we efficiently manage background tasks, thus avoiding the NetworkOnMainThreadException.

Scenario 3

Error code

fun downloadFile(fileUrl: String) {
    val url = URL(fileUrl)
    val content = url.readBytes() // NetworkOnMainThreadException
}

Corrected code

fun downloadFile(fileUrl: String) {
    AsyncTask.execute {
        val url = URL(fileUrl)
        val content = url.readBytes() // Executed in AsyncTask
    }
}

Solution Summary

The AsyncTask class provides a simple way to use a thread pool to execute tasks in the background, addressing the NetworkOnMainThreadException by keeping the network operation off the main thread.

Handling NetworkOnMainThreadException in Kotlin

Understanding the root cause of the NetworkOnMainThreadException is crucial for Kotlin developers. Employing background threads, utilizing Kotlin Coroutines, or leveraging AsyncTask are effective strategies to circumvent this issue, ensuring that network operations do not interfere with the UI's smooth functioning.

Proactive Error Debugging with Zipy

To further streamline error handling, consider utilizing tools like Zipy for debugging runtime Kotlin errors. Zipy's proactive error monitoring and session replay capabilities empower developers to identify and resolve issues more efficiently, enhancing the overall development workflow.

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Conclusion

Mastering the handling of NetworkOnMainThreadException in Kotlin is essential for developing responsive, user-friendly applications. By employing the strategies outlined in this article, developers can ensure their applications remain responsive and efficient, providing a seamless user experience.

Resources on how to debug and fix Kotlin errors

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does NetworkOnMainThreadException occur in Kotlin?

It occurs when an application attempts to perform a network operation on the main thread, which Android disallows to prevent UI blocking.

How can I solve NetworkOnMainThreadException in Kotlin?

Utilize background threads, Kotlin Coroutines, or AsyncTask to perform network operations off the main thread.

What are Kotlin Coroutines?

Kotlin Coroutines are a concurrency design pattern that you can use to simplify asynchronous programming by turning asynchronous callbacks into sequential code.

Can AsyncTask still be used to solve NetworkOnMainThreadException?

Yes, AsyncTask can be used for background operations, but it's considered outdated, and Kotlin Coroutines are recommended for new projects.

Is it mandatory to handle NetworkOnMainThreadException in every network call?

Yes, to prevent your application from freezing or crashing, every network call must be handled outside the main thread.

Key takeaways

  • Moving network operations to a background thread or using Kotlin Coroutines can prevent NetworkOnMainThreadException.
  • Understanding and implementing proper concurrency patterns in Kotlin is crucial for developing smooth and responsive applications.
  • Tools like Zipy enhance debugging efficiency by offering proactive error monitoring and session replay capabilities.
  • Staying informed about best practices and modern solutions like Kotlin Coroutines over AsyncTask is essential for modern Android development.

Call to Action

Feel free to comment or write to us in case you have any further questions at support@zipy.ai. We would be happy to help you. In case you want to explore for your app, you can sign up or book a demo.











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